RAGBRAI news team
Thu, Jul 11, 2013 | by Des Moines RegisterShare
Any city changes in 16 years, but the developments in downtown Des Moines since 1997 — the last time the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa spent the night in town — are especially pronounced.
Public and private entities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on housing, park land, event venues and commercial space. Overlooked areas have become destinations for residents — and for big events, city and tourism officials say. Major sporting events in Des Moines in recent years have included regional finals of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, the NCAA wrestling championships and the U.S. track and field championships.
Change is far from finished. Work is in motion for an overhaul of Cowles Commons, formerly Nollen Plaza, across from Des Moines Peforming Arts’ Civic Center, as well as a new YMCA. And the opening of a new hub for the regional transit system freed up Walnut Street for still-forming plans to turn a rundown bus corridor into another pedestrian-friendly commercial and entertainment zone.
With nearly three-quarters of RAGBRAI visitors coming from out of state, the city is eager to show off its progress.
So if you’re an infrequent guest or even a first-time visitor, here is a partial list of downtown attractions that were drastically different, still on the drawing board, or only dreams just before the turn of the century.
The 10,000-plus registered and unregistered bicyclists who reach Des Moines will encounter vehicle traffic unlike any other RAGBRAI stop. Authorities have spent all year preparing.
POLICE: Des Moines police plan to dedicate an entire patrol shift — about 30 officers — to policing the route, campgrounds and festivities on Court Avenue. The remaining two patrol shifts will work 12-hour days everywhere else in the city July 23 and 24.
DRIVERS: Crossing the metro area from west to east, the route for RAGBRAI’s first stop in Des Moines in 16 years could create some delays for commuters. North-south traffic will be most affected, and drivers trying to get downtown from the south when cyclists leave town on July 24 likely will see the longest delays.
COMING IN, GOING OUT
Downtown is hardly the only major site in the metro area for the RAGBRAI crowd. The shorter rides from Perry and to Knoxville will give riders time to sample West Des Moines’ historic Valley Junction area and its parties on Tuesday, and to get an early look at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
CAMPING: A NEW HOME
The designated campsite in Des Moines is Water Works Park.
PAST LOCATIONS: Other sites were considered, including the Iowa Capitol complex, where riders stayed in 1988 and 1992. In 1997, the ride parked at Blank Park Zoo on the south side, after officials worried about moving so many bicyclists through the downtown area. The size of Water Works Park allowed organizers to avoid having more than one campground.
ABOUT WATER WORKS: The 1,500-acre park plays host to many events each year, including the Hy-Vee Fishing Derby for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the International Latino Carnival.
GETTING AROUND: The park is connected by trails to the primary entertainment area on Court Avenue and an “events village” along the Principal Riverwalk, but shuttle buses will be available to transport riders to RAGBRAI activities downtown.
MUCH MORE INFO
FIND IT IN DES MOINES: The campground? Attractions major and minor? The bathrooms? To get to any of them, check an interactive map coming soon RAGBRAI.com.
ENTERTAINMENT LISTINGS: Get a complete list for Des Moines and every town at RAGBRAI.com and on the new RAGBRAI mobile app.
COMING JULY 23: In The Des Moines Register the morning RAGBRAI comes to Iowa’s capital (and in the campground in Perry the night before), pick up a 12-page guide chock full of helpful information and maps about Des Moines.
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Cleanup is "a community effort," said Gary Ludwig, the chairman of Forest City RAGBRAI. "That's what RAGBRAI is about. Everyone does something."
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Mr. Pork Chop was the star of the show, but Lance Armstrong also shook some hands in Bancroft on Tuesday. The Register's Mary Willie put together this video:
Here’s a quick look ahead toward Wednesday’s 38-mile ride from Emmetsburg to Forest City
Bicycles make the main appearance during RAGBRAI, but in Forest City, motor homes and recreational vehicles are king.
Tuesday was unofficial legends day on RAGBRAI XLII.
A central Iowa woman was charged with drunken driving and failure to use headlamps late Sunday after authorities said she ran into two pedestrians who had been riding RAGBRAI, the ...
Riders gave their best impressions of the pork chop call (check your volume before playing this video),
We set up a camera in Bancroft to create this time-lapse video of RAGBRAI passing through. Take a look:
The NPR crew and son-of-Mr.-Pork-Chop Matt Bernhard speak to the Register's Michael Morain.
A high pressure system will bring cooler, drier air to central Iowa on Wednesday. RAGBRAI riders can look forward to a much more comfortable ride
Lance Armstrong met riders and the famed Mr. Pork Chop during a RAGBRAI stop in Bancroft on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
Bancroft is the home town of Paul Bernhard, the original Mr. Pork Chop.
The Andorfer family, led by father Gene, 80, uses RAGBRAI as a chance to spend a week together.
We asked RAGBRAI riders about their porkchop from the famous Mr. Pork Chop in Bancroft.
Titonka firefighters hostes a water battle fundraiser with fire hoses Tuesday afternoon.
A time-lapse video shows the flow of bicycles through Bancroft on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
Riders who took the Karras Loop for a 105-mile day got a special bonus: the toilet toss in Burt. We've slowed the video down for extra fun.
It's been very comfortable, except for being a bit warm when it's 100 degrees out.
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